Review: Wheatus at Waterfront, Norwich, harks back to teenage kicks

Brendan B Brown of Wheatus. Pictue: D Faulkner

Brendan B Brown of Wheatus. Pictue: D Faulkner - Credit: Archant

The Teenage Dirtbag pop-rockers' tales of teenage anxiety still strike a chord in a gig that about more than just that super-catchy chart-topping three minutes.

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It must be both a blessing and a curse for a band to have a hit like Teenage Dirtbag. On the one hand it probably keeps you in work for the next decade or two, but on the other for most it is what you are remembered for.

In fairness Wheatus are more than a one-hit-wonder, in fact they are halfway through recording their seventh (that's right seventh!) album.

The New York pop rockers have gone through numerous line-up changes since their early noughties heyday but leader and front man Brendan B Brown has remained a mainstay, with his distinctive high-pitched croon.

Bravely, for a band known for one or two big hits, Brown asked the Waterfront crowd for suggestions of which song to play next: 'what's next Norwich?'

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However, the band tended to play what they wanted to and after the first few songs, and the couple of mentions of 'it's too early for Teenage Dirtbag' the crowd stopped shouting too many suggestions.

Wheatus have managed to build a back catalogue which sounds surprisingly familiar to someone my age and they tended to stick to tracks from their debut album.

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The band were tight and their songs, such as Leroy and Wannabe Gangster, have taken on a nostalgic feel with time as they look back on those formative teenage years. Their rather good cover of Erasure's A Little Respect got the desired sing-a-long and Brown's voice is still more than capable of hitting the high notes.

Off the back of teen movies such as Loser and American Pie, Wheatus and their peers brought their underdog stories to the airwaves and not a lot has changed with the music. But the gig did start to drift a little towards the end as the well-known tracks became fewer and further between before Teenage Dirtbag helped send everyone home happy.

Perhaps surprisingly to some Wheatus have transcended the generations with much of the crowd in its early 40s, and too old to have been a teen, and others too young to have been born when Teenage Dirtbag sailed through the charts.

The youthful section of the audience may well have been bolstered by a tour with Busted last year which Brown referenced himself.

Wheatus were ably supported themselves by the excellent Mike Doughty, whose songs mix an eclectic variety of sounds, cello, guitar riffs and electronic bleeps, but seem to end up finding something that works.

Brown extended his evening somewhat by playing guitar for the Memphis singer, who got the night off to a flying start.

Doughty returned the favour by returning to the stage to rap a verse over Teenage Dirtbag as Wheatus brought the show to a triumphant end.

The band's tales of teenage anxiety still strike a note and an enjoyment of playing music clearly still runs through them. While the sound may not have evolved over the years there is still a lot of fun to be had with three minute pop rock bursts.

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